By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s growing exhaustion and frustration for medical staffs confronting a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and staffing shortages. Nurses are calling for a day of action Thursday.

Most hospitals say they’ve reached a crisis situation.

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The dedication and courage of their staff is what keeps them going, but many hospital workers say they’re running on empty, although they’re still holding onto hope.

On the frontlines fighting COVID-19 in the Jefferson emergency department, Dr. Effie Kean spent the last nine months pregnant with her daughter who was born on Jan. 8.

Kean says she felt safe with the protective equipment and is relieved there are now more therapies,
but it’s been grueling.

“The hardest part is watching someone that we can’t help,” Kean said.

“It’s really been hard. It’s hard,” Temple ICU nurse Mary Adamson said.

Over at Temple University Hospital, Adamson is beyond exhausted and now, there’s growing frustration with another round of surging patients and serious staff shortages.

“People are coding and dying, they’re dying. And all of the protocols and the systems and everything that we did before, it’s just really watered down and it’s not clear and concise. And we’re struggling, we’re struggling,” Adamson said.

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She says, in addition to being overwhelmed with patients, staffing shortages are even impacting the availability of equipment.

There are concerns that staff infected with COVID-19 are forced to return to work before it’s safe.

“Standards of care have dropped dramatically in the hospitals,” Adamson said. “I don’t think we’re delivering the best quality care that we could.”

On Thursday, National Nurses United will hold a day of action demanding that hospitals do a better job.

“We want America to recognize that we’re in a huge crisis now,” Adamson said.

Hospitals say they’re doing the best they can and have taken necessary actions to protect staff and patients.

“What keeps me going is fighting for the people that need it,” Adamson said.

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CBS3 reached out to Temple University Hospital for its reaction to the nurses, but we haven’t heard back.

Stephanie Stahl